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Welcome to 22 News and Views. This publication is your opportunity to receive e-mail updates on the work and the issues that I have been involved with, both in Harrisburg and throughout the 22nd Senatorial District.

Sen. Blake Tours TCMC with Secretary of Health

Dr. Eli Avila & Senator Blake

I had the distinct opportunity to join Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Eli Avila for a tour of the state’s newest medical college, The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC).

On our walking tour of the downtown Scranton campus, we were able to discuss the importance of public health initiatives and public health research with numerous medical students and faculty.
TCMC is one of the most important assets in the city and in all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. This first-class medical college is graduating brilliant young doctors that will only continue to improve the quality of health care provided at our hospitals, clinics and medical centers throughout Pennsylvania.TCMC Video

TCMC offers both a Medical Degree (MD) program and a Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degree. Over the next 20 years, it is expected that the medical school will add $70 million to the local economy and create 1,000 new jobs that directly and indirectly support the school’s operations.

I sincerely believe that our tour of TCMC and discussion about public health initiatives taking place at TCMC made a positive impact on Sec. Avila.

Everyone understands that Pennsylvania is still clawing out of the national recession, and state funding to very important programs and services across the state continues to be cut.

However, fighting for the restoration of state funding to TCMC will remain a top priority as we move forward in budget negotiations. After witnessing the quality of the facility and the extraordinary value of the research, education and training taking place at TCMC and, of course, after talking with students who are excited about their chosen career paths, it is essential that the state continues to invest in TCMC and its future operations.

Local Impact of Proposed Budget Cuts Discussed at Legislative Breakfast

Local Impact of Proposed Budget Cuts Discussed at Legislative Breakfast In what was the first of many legislative breakfasts, I had the pleasure to host local government officials from every municipality in the 22nd Senatorial District at Fiorelli’s in Peckville to discuss state issues and the prospective local impacts of state budget proposals.

The dialogue with the municipal officials provided me with perspective from many different regions of my Senate district and it expanded on the concerns that are paramount to these officials as we move into the last few weeks of budget negotiations in Harrisburg.

The local officials in attendance understand the effects of the recent recession and know the challenges of balancing budgets under these circumstances. They expect a state budget compromise that reflects true shared sacrifice from all sectors of our economy and a final spending plan that protects our seniors and persons with disabilities while investing properly in education, health care and economic development.

Tobacco Settlement Fund Should Fund Health Initiatives

Under the Tobacco Settlement Act, Act 77 of 2001, the Governor and the General Assembly are required to use Pennsylvania’s share of the settlement dollars for health-related programs. Unfortunately that has not been standard practice in recent years.

Auditor General Jack Wagner recently released a special report that summarized nearly 1,000 pages of testimony from social service organizations and individuals from hearings held across the state. The report shows overwhelming public support for utilizing Tobacco Settlement Funds for health-related purposes, and not diverted into the General Fund.

While serving as the Acting Secretary at the Department of Community and Economic Development, I had the privilege to also serve for a short time as the Chairman of the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board.

Act 77 of 2001 was a visionary piece of legislation that was specifically intended to ensure a better healthcare delivery system, expand healthcare insurance coverage to those in need and to advance the Commonwealth’s research and development.

It is my position that the Tobacco Settlement Funds should continue to be dedicated to bolstering health-related programs and health care initiatives.

Congratulations Sukanya! National Spelling Bee Champion!

As millions of viewers throughout the county watched on national television, South Abington Township’s 14-year-old spelling sensation, Sukanya Roy, outlasted all of her competitors to claim the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship in Washington, D.C.

We are extraordinarily proud of Sukanya for her wonderful accomplishment and I have introduced a Senate resolution recognizing her for her achievement.

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